Anton kowolski vicki Chekhov.

This has been posted on the Slavic academic listserv SEELANGS, and I thought it was intriguing enough to repost here:

A few weeks ago I received a draft of a paper from a student who is a native speaker of Mandarin. The first line read: “Anton kowolski vicki Chekhov, as one of the most famous Russian short stories writer in the late nineteenth century Russian society, is valued highly and respectfully by lots of critics, scholars and historians.”

When I googled the phrase “Anton kowolski vicki Chekhov,” I found a Chinese edition that refers to him by this name.

Does anyone have any ideas about why the Chinese might call him by this name? One of my colleagues suggested that “vicki” might be some form of the patronymic ending “-ovich,” but that still leaves “kowolski” unaccounted for. (If I’m not mistaken, “Kowalski” is essentially the Polish equivalent of “Smith” (which in Russian would be Kuznetsov, I guess), but that doesn’t seem to answer my question.)

I also briefly considered the possibility that this was a matronymic of some sort, but I rejected that interpretation when I realized that Chekhov’s mother’s name was Evgeniia Iakovlevna Chekhova (nee Morozova), and not Vicky Kowalski (although I’m pretty sure that I went to high school with a Vicky Kowalski).

Any thoughts?

I join the poster in asking: Any thoughts? (Thanks, Caroline!)


  1. Well, that’s the Romanized name they give him on Baidu, so I think the immediate cause is “automatically produced public-domain books copying directly from Baidu without any proofing (not that the people involved would care in any case)”. But that just moves the question to where Baidu got it.

    Incidentally, they give the Chinese-character version of his name as: “安东·巴甫洛维奇·契诃夫” which is “Āndōng Bāfǔluòwéiqí Qìhēfū”. If you mis-separated this when returning it to Roan characters, you could indeed end up with “Anton Pavlo[v] Vicki Chekhov”, so I think the theory linking “vicki” to “-ovich” is correct. “Pavl-” to “Kowolski” is the mystery to solve!

  2. I suggest simple spelling mistake

    In“安东·巴甫洛维奇·契诃夫” or (“Āndōng Bāfǔluòwéiqí Qìhēfū”) someone misspelled and put 口 instead of 巴

    Which resulted in Āndōng Kǒufǔluòwéiqí Qìhēfū

  3. It may also come from this Penguin Chinese edition of Chekhov’s works, listed on Amazon as “Anton kowolski vicki Chekhov (Author)”

  4. Sashura: That’s the “Chinese edition” link in my post.

  5. Marc Adler says

    I often deal with Japanese documents which have OCR’ed, and for a computer to mistake 巴 for 口 is well within the realm of possibility, especially if the copy isn’t the best.

    How OCR would fit into a student’s paper is a mystery to me, but some combination of plagiarism and Google translate is not an impossibility.

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